It wasn't too long ago that there were only 21 NHL teams (1990-91). There are now 30 teams. How can a league expand by 9 teams (or nearly 43%) and expect to have a good product? You just can't. The talent is spread too thin. On top of that the NHL expanded to cities who just aren't that into hockey (mostly the South). So I think the NHL should scale back to 20 teams. That allows 4 five team divisions. And it also allows you to bring back the Wales and Campbell conference names as well as the Patrick, Adams, Norris, and Smythe division names. Those made hockey original, lets bring them back.
So who gets cut? Well first off the 8 expansion teams of San Jose, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida, Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus, and Minnesota. There isn't must history lost there. I do realize that Anaheim and Tampa Bay have won the Stanley Cup but so have the two time champ Montreal Maroons. I don't think that losing those cities would hurt the NHL. I do think that Ottawa should be spared. First hockey is a Canadian sport, so I believe that no Canadian teams should go. Second while this Ottawa franchise has no Cups, the original Ottawa Senators did win 4. Plus having them makes it easier to form divisions.
Well that now leaves 22 teams so who else goes? Well Carolina kinda sticks out all alone down South. So despite having an NHL title they get cut. The other team to go would be Phoenix. No titles and being in a desert doesn't fit my NHL. Which now brings us to the divisions.
Dallas kinda sticks out. Ideally I think it would be better if they move back to Minnesota. Although you would lose a big market. As to schedule I would have them play 2 times vs teams from the other conference (20 games), 6 times vs teams from the other division (30 games), and 8 times vs teams from the same division (32 games). For the playoffs I would only take 4 teams per conference. Having 16 of 20 would make the regular season meaningless. Also baseball gets by fine having only 8 of 30.
So based on this year (which wouldn't be totally accurate):
1. WAS vs 4. BUF
2. PIT vs 3. NJD
1. CHI vs 4. LAK
2. VAN vs 3. DET
I think with less teams and a lot more talent per team it would bring back the NHL.